Police said a criminal network is operating in the Bay Area, targeting the most vulnerable.
In at least four East Bay cities, they’ve found older women, who were walking alone, and had thousands of dollars worth of jewelry taken from them.
Frances Roberts, 95, went for a walk on the San Francisco Bay Trail in Berkeley Thanksgiving Day, when a car pulled up, with a man and woman in front and two children in back.
The woman approached.
Get a weekly recap of the latest San Francisco Bay Area housing news. Sign up for NBC Bay Area’s Housing Deconstructed newsletter.
“She kissed me on each cheek saying, ‘you’re so sweet, you’re so nice,’” said Roberts.
Then the stranger put a necklace of junk beads over Roberts’ head, supposedly as a gift but in reality as a distraction, while stealing the invaluable necklace Robert's mother had left her.
“We had a pact that she would wear that chain until she died and then I would wear it till I die and it was our way of keeping up with each other,” said Roberts.
The thieves also got Robert's $2,500 ring.
Thieves in four East Bay cities have pulled off nearly identical crimes in the past few days. This in Berkeley, Pleasanton, Brentwood, and twice in San Ramon. The most recent there being on Sunday.
In every case, a woman over the age of 65.
“And the common thing is they are walking alone, by themselves with jewelry -bracelets, watches, that someone could see,” said Capitan Depton Carlson of the San Ramon Police Department.
What varies is the thieves themselves and their getaway cars.
A suspect vehicle caught on camera in San Ramon is a different make, model and color than other getaway vehicles.
That license plate showed the car to be a rental. Suspect descriptions also vary.
“Both in race, size and age,” said Carlson. “Our concern is there is a network of criminals connected somehow committing these crimes throughout the Bay Area."
Roberts says she regrets not doing something with that cane she uses to get around.
"I was gonna take my cane and hit anyone I could hit. I know I couldn’t do a lot of damage but I would be satisfied, I didn’t let them do it and me do nothing,” said Roberts.